Christianity,  Music

Derek Webb: Clean or Explicit?

Derek Webb has a new album out, and it comes with a bit of controversy. reports the following:

‘Derek Webb’s new album, Stockholm Syndrome, will be released in September in two versions: a clean and explicit version.

‘The controversy surrounds the lyrics to one of the songs, “What Matters More,” in which Webb says apparently the word “sh*t”. In typical Derek Webb fashion, he’s used a bit of shock value to make a point and in the process made his label a little nervous. (And used it all to promote the album.)

The album is available as a digital download right now (see here). As reported, the song “What Matters More” does have the aforementioned obscenity in it (and another one not mentioned in the BeliefNet article). In my view, however, the two obscenities are not nearly as troubling as the overall message of the song. The song lampoons Christians who are more concerned about the moral status of homosexuality than they are about the tragedy of world hunger. Webb argues that “what matters most” is the “50,000 people who are dyin’ today” (presumably of hunger, if the 50k number indeed comes from Tony Campolo). Thus the lyrics seem to suggest that the remedy to Pharisaical moralizing about homosexuality is greater attention to relieving human suffering.

I would suggest, however, that the best remedy to Pharisaical moralizing is the gospel. Just yesterday, I addressed a group of youth pastors and leaders about gender confusion in the culture. After I finished my talk, a youth leader came to me to ask about how he should deal with a student under his care who is struggling with homosexual sin. Would it have made any sense at all in that moment to explain to the leader how much I’ve personally done to relieve world hunger (as important as that work is)? I think not.

What I did tell him is that the gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone–including his student who experiences same-sex attraction. What this student needs more than anything is Jesus Christ, the One who was crucified and raised for sinners. For this student, following Jesus will involve (among other things) abstaining from sinful sexual desires (the moral status of which the leader must be clear about). Not to be forthright about this is to draw people away from Christ, not toward Him.

To be sure, Webb’s song is edgy, but in all the wrong ways. Christians cannot wait until world hunger ends before they sound a clear word about how Christ Jesus came to save sinners (including homosexual ones). I wish that Webb had concluded that “What Matters More” is the gospel. I think he missed it on this one.

Stockholm Syndrome Trailer from Derek Webb on Vimeo.


  • Mark Lamprecht

    I would suggest, however, that the best remedy to Pharisaical moralizing is the gospel.

    Exactly! Imagine if we applied this principle to all of the ills faced in this fallen world? We would probably never get to repentance, sin and the Gospel.

    Good post.

  • Ben

    Are you sure that Derek was referring to the number of people who are dying of AIDS each day? My thought was that he was referring to those perishing without the gospel, so that the song is trying to get the attention of those who so focus on the issue of homosexuality that they forget to focus on loving people by giving them the gospel. I could be wrong, though, and I would like to know what he means by that.

  • Denny Burk

    That’s a good question, Ben. I wondered the same thing, so I looked up how many people in the world die per day. That number is about 250k. So it doesn’t appear that Webb is talking about the general death rate per day.

    If the 50k number is not a reference to AIDS deaths, then I don’t know what he is talking about and how it relates to the topic of Christian attitudes towards homosexuality. If anybody comes up with something, let me know.

  • Matt

    I think he’s talking about people starving to death while Christians bash gays. I have loved DW’s music … up until now. He used to be prophetic. In this song, he’s simply pandering to his audience. You’re not prophetic, if your audience likes what you’re saying. And his listeners are the tattooed hipsters who sip Guinness and hide their Liberty University diplomas behind their U2 LPs. When one looks at the majority of evangelicals who give billions every year in humanitarian aid versus the small number of squeaky wheels who get media attention for bashing gays, you see that Derek is simply fighting the straw man of bigotry because it plays to his audience. I’m disappointed in him.

  • Jesse Eubanks

    Hey Denny –

    Maybe it would be useful to post the lyrics in their entirety. In listening to the song 3 times, I am not sure that his point is to pit homosexuality in contrast to the AIDS crisis.

    I’m not actually a Derek Webb fan or anything. I own tons of music, but not any of his. However, I am not sure I agree with your interpretation of the song. As I read through his lyrics, I don’t think his point is “to suggest that the remedy to Pharisaical moralizing about homosexuality is greater attention to those dying of AIDS.” or in my words, that homosexuality is an irrelevant issue in contrast to AIDS. I think his point is that it isn’t the ONLY issue. For many Christians, two issues dominate their landscape – homosexuality and abortion. Meanwhile, many of these same Christians turn a blind eye to issues of poverty, hunger and social injustice. I think his lyric is an indictment against people who simply ask “Are you straight? Do you know Jesus?” If you said “Yes” to both of these questions, then all is well in your life. I will agree wholeheartedly that what matters most is Christ – and that He is concerned with both our physical and spiritual being. He is concerned with our physical health, our sexuality, our souls, our union with Him.

    Just some thoughts. What do you think?

    – J

  • Darius T

    “When one looks at the majority of evangelicals who give billions every year in humanitarian aid versus the small number of squeaky wheels who get media attention for bashing gays, you see that Derek is simply fighting the straw man of bigotry because it plays to his audience.”

    Right on, Matt. I don’t think I’ve heard any of Webb’s music, but now I’m not about to start.

  • Buck Buchanan

    I just googled “50,000 deaths per day” and came up with this “statistic” ::

    Doctors attribute 50,000
    American deaths per year to
    airborne particulate matter,
    about one-third of which comes
    from power plants

    Sooo…this could be it, but I still don’t know. And Darius T, I’m really sorry to hear you say that because DWebb writes some very thought provoking lyrics. I’ve really enjoyed “Stockholm Syndrome” (I guess that makes me a tattooed hipster who sips on Guiness)…maybe I need to look a little bit deeper into his lyrics, but his other music is very good and I think you would get a lot out of it.

  • Buck Buchanan

    So I just read the article that you mentioned and maybe DWebb got his idea for the lyric from the person they mentioned in the article ::

    “It reminded me of that quote by Tony Campolo: ‘50,000 people around the world died of hunger today. That’s bad, but what’s worse is that most of us don’t give a damn. But what’s even worse is that for many of us it is more bothersome that I just said the word ‘damn’ than that I said 50,000 children of God died of hunger.'”

    Just a thought

  • Drew

    It isn’t about the amount that is given, it is about the amount of effort we put into things that are distractions when people are dying every day because we ignore them.

  • Ryan K.

    You nailed it Matt. Study after study shows that Christians as a whole are giving more of their time and money toward humanitarian causes than any other group. Of course we could do better, much better, but we need to layoff the constant self-loathing of Christians when there are evidences of God’s graces in the church and lives of believers all around.

    Also, its a false dichotomy to imply that one cannot state homosexuality is wrong, and passionately be caring about the poor and hungry.

  • Ben

    I’m not sure Derek would have done research as to what the actual number of deaths per day was, before writing that song. It’s more of a large number to get our attention to the foolishness of exalting this one issue in a way that is not Christ-like so that the sins of others are completely ignored and even agreed with. So I would say that the target audience for this song would hear it and be convicted of their nearsightedness and hatred when they should be expressing the love of Christ to them.

  • D.J. Williams

    I’m not sure that Derek is saying that homosexuality is OK, just that an inordinate focus on it over other issues of the Gospel is not (“If I can tell your heart by what comes out of your mouth, it seems that being straight is what all it’s about”). I’ll wait until I hear the album to pass full judgment, but I do worry that, as Matt put it, he’s no longer being prophetic but is simply being shocking because its what we expect from him. However, only Derek really knows the answer to that question, so I’m not sure it’s for us to judge.

    At any rate, Darius – you should certainly go and pick up his first solo album, She Must and Shall Go Free. It’s one of the best albums I’ve ever heard. I’ve enjoyed his other stuff, but none of it holds a candle to that first album.

  • Ryan K.

    What does it mean to say there is an “inordinate” amount of attention given to homosexuality by Christians?

    Its a silly myth to think that Christians just have this dramatic fixation with homosexuality, but the truth is it is one of the biggest issues in our culture in which God has placed us. Like it or not, and if Christians spoke on it or not, in the last 20 years the issue of homosexuality has been thrusted to the front of pop culture and politics.

    The truth of the matter is not that Christians have an inordinate focus on homosexuality, rather that it has become a blaring issue in our country that is constantly being brought up by the world around us.

  • Frank Turk

    What I would really love is to see Derek Webb, c. 1999, interview Derek Webb, c. 2009.

    In lieu of that, I would love to interview Derek myself for about 60 minutes and publish the unedited transcript at my blog or at any blog/source he’d find useful. My only qualification would be that Derek could not quit half-way through.

  • Cameo

    The article seems a little unfair in that it takes the song and makes it say something that it never says. The title of the song, “What Matters More,” implies that the songwriter wants us to ask ourselves a question. The song does not necessarily promise/offer an answer. If you listen to this song and say that Derek has supplied the answer you’re being unfair: “The lyrics seem to suggest that the remedy to Pharisaical moralizing about homosexuality is greater attention to relieving world hunger.” Seem to suggest? Its rather disingenuous to attack Derek Webb’s music, one day after it was made available, based on what you perceive that it “seems to suggest,” especially when Derek Webb often offers his listeners a clear presentation of the Gospel that you refer to (see his “House Show” album). It might make for good daily blog content, but it is not proper treatment of a Christian brother who, despite his wrinkles, God might actually use to open our eyes or shed some new light on the world around us. A better approach might be actually be providing your own thoughts on “what matters more,” allowing the song to provoke a conversation, rather than a one-sided commentary based on initial impressions.

  • Mitch Majeski

    Maybe I am missing something but in my limited view I heard something like this in the lyrics:

    Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3.1-5 ESV)

    I agree that the Gospel is the answer, but the good Gospel work is proceeded by repentance in the preacher and the hearer. I trust that is what Derek is going for here, not necessarily social justice as a means to salvation. But then again, I don’t really know.

  • volfan007


    Some of dont like the 50,000 people that died of hunger today, and we dont like the fact that you said,”D_mn.” We dont like either one.

    And, I really dont like to hear people, who call themselves followers of Christ, cuss in a song, either.

  • Rob Masters

    Is Derek doing the devils bidding in his hometown……?

    Of course not….his heart is pure…please!

    As someone who believes the cultural mandate I am frankly tired of people like Derek and Francis Chan.

    For Francis Chan’s rant against Prop 8 activism see this…..

    Rob from the Southern Baptist Geneva

  • J. Curtis Watson

    The name of the song is “What Matters More” not what matters most. I think sometimes it is better to draw comparisons to specific issues. I’m not a Webb apologist but I don’t think we can brush away his point by saying he’s not referring to the ultimate gospel issue. As a side note I think our issue with the s-word and his issue with using is both a bit silly.

  • Boyce Alum

    Now I really want to be a missionary. Not because I am called to be one, not because I am unable to find any other job. Simply because a number of followers of Christ are on this blog concerned over the statistic more than the faces behind said stat.

    American believers need to be spending more time on actually sharing about the Bread of Life than the loaf of whole wheat. I agree with Denny here.

    The problem is that in the states everyone is caught up with the whole moralistic issue (“Pharisees”/a majority of Southern Baptists/WBC) OR they are caught up in the social gospel initiative (So called Liberty Alum cf. #4 Matt, and Webb).

    I just returned from Ecuador on Mission, and people are just as hungry for food as they are for Christ there. Everyone needs to stop piddling around arguing over the s-bomb and the rest of Webb’s lyrics and get out of your suburb.

    Lame American Christians are the reason that homosexuality and starvation are both rampant in the World. Way to model the Saviour, *Claps*.

  • Scott


    I surely hope that the deaths of those dying from hunger are far more important in your eyes than someone saying damn in a song.

    That’s exactly the kind of “pharisaical morality,” to borrow Denny’s use of the term, that the song decries.

  • Andrew

    If you read it a little more abstractly, it seems like Derek is perhaps making the same point as Jesus when He quoted Hosea–“I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” In other words, the issue is one of the heart, not of outward deeds. If we truly loved our neighbors as ourselves, we would help those in need, instead of substituting the form of godliness–in this case, unmercifully condemning sinners who are no worse than ourselves–for its substance, namely, Christlike service toward the needy.

    This, of course, is something that flows out of the Gospel, not something that comes before or instead of it.

  • John Holmberg

    Matt (#4),

    Well, you’re his listener and he’s not pandering to you, nor is he pandering to Denny. I’d say that makes him prophetic. That’s quite the ironic post.

  • blair Roberts

    i think it’s insulting to derek to say he is just pandering an audience. that’s ridiculous. i guess i must be one of the “tattooed hipsters” matt was referring to. i think it’s funny that when he pushes your buttons, he is pandering to those who expect shock, but when you agree, he is being prophetic. i think he is prophetic and pushes people to the limit with what he does. that is a good thing. it’s not pandering. there are few artists out there who have as much integrity as derek webb. you can disagree with his views if you wish, but i don’t think anyone has the right to question his integrity.

  • Brady


    You said, “To be sure, Webb’s song is edgy, but in all the wrong ways. Christians cannot wait until world hunger ends before they sound a clear word about how Christ Jesus came to save sinners (including homosexual ones).”

    I think you have missed DWebb on this one. I don’t think that is his point. I think rather his point is that we can’t wait on homosexuality to end before we do something about world hunger.

  • Jonathan Baird


    I think it is a stretch to say that Webb is offering a “remedy to Pharisaical moralizing about homosexuality.” I don’t know exactly what he is saying, but I think it is better not to speculate. Why wouldn’t we want to give our brother the benefit of the doubt? He has been a strong defender of the gospel, and I don’t want to assume that he has ceased to be so.

  • Mrs. Erven

    Haven’t heard the song, but I do enjoy his music. He doesn’t “fluff” Americans and make us feel all mushy inside about all the nice things we do. He’s quite…blunt.

    Like I said, I haven’t heard the song, but I’d like to think he’s making the point that we’re doing a lot more damage bashing homosexuality than the good we’re doing about all the “least & the lost.”

    Again, though, I haven’t listened to the song. Perhaps, I shall.

  • Brian Denker

    Thus the lyrics seem to suggest that the remedy to Pharisaical moralizing about homosexuality is greater attention to relieving world hunger.

    Denny, I’m a huge fan of your writing so I just wanted to make a gentle suggestion.

    I think you missed it a little when you assumed that Webb is proposing a remedy to homosexuality when he is simply making a comparison to the homosexual issue. If I observe that cops seem to be more concerned about speeding than about burglary that doesn’t mean that I am saying an attack on burglary will “remedy” the speeding problem. Isn’t this just a logical fallacy, or is there something I’m missing?

  • Charlie Albright


    Denny’s problem with the song is it pitting one moral issue against another. Derek is asking in the song, “Why are Christians focusing all their moral effort to combat homosexuality while seemingly ignoring the vast amounts of people dying” or “why have we raised this one issue over this other issue.” What Denny is saying is that we are not to pit one moral issue against another. The gospel is to the main message we speak.

    Though, it is true that Derek is making a hierarchical argument regrading what issues should capture most of our time as Christians being a benefit to the city we live it. Just like we should be more concerned if a culture accepts extreme chauvinism than the culture not caring if ever house has a smoke alarm. One is a bigger problem than the other. So it might be the fact that Derek is saying that the issue of people dying of hunger is of greater importance to our being a benefit to the city than making the issue of homosexuality predominate. Not necessarily saying that the gospel is of not of first importance.

    the problem with his accusation is that it is a straw man against Churches. Yes it is stingy, but its sting comes from an unfair caricature of conservative Christians. And it presents a false dichotomy in asking “what is more important to you.” why can’t the answer be “we can work against both!” i really can’t see why a local church can’t make a biblical stand and lovingly reach out to homosexuals why using the gifts from the church to aid the poor that are starving.

  • Robert Hall

    Not to be the fly in the ointment, but if you solve world hunger and all of the people aren’t hungry anymore, but die and go to hell, what exactly have you done?

    It’s that pesky all of nothing attitude that God has about things.

  • Richard

    What matters MOST is to see past the sin into the heart of people whose greatest need is to know and trust Jesus as Lord and Savior.

    Most Christians view homosexuality as false, evil and ugly; thus, their view is compounded into an extreme eschetic distaste for any and all homosexual expression, to include those whom God has redeemed.

    God called my out of homosexuality thirty years ago. As the temptations have never changed, I live a celibate live in Jesus Christ in faithful obedience to His Word.

    I think we are misfocused both when we rail against the moral status of homosexuality and ignore the tragedy of world hunger. Jesus called us to make disciples by proclaiming the One who is the Bread of Life and the Living Water. And, as disciples we will love the homosexual and feed the needy.

  • Charlie Albright

    Brian, I probably need to revise the response to you. It is one of those imes that think you understand things but then you reread them and you find out that you don’t. sorry about it.

    I missuderstood what Denny was saying and put words in Denny’s mouth that He did not say. His problem is out rightly stated (my blind eyes missed it), Thus the lyrics seem to suggest that the remedy to Pharisaical moralizing about homosexuality is greater attention to relieving world hunger.

    That is different from what I said his problem is with it. I errantly put my thoughts in his mouth. So when reading the first paragraph just see those being MY reaction to the song.

  • Denny Burk

    Brian (#31),

    I think you may be right about that. Derek probably does intend 50,000-dying-each-day as a metonymy for human suffering in general. That being said, I think my main point still stands. Yes, Christians should be marked by “mercy rather than sacrifice,” but people are nevertheless in need of a clear word NOW about the gospel and its implications for the disciple’s sexuality. The decibel level is at a high pitch on this particular issue not simply because “white middle class Republican” curmudgeons are beholden to cultural Christianity and blind to true biblical priorities. At least part of the reason that the issue is so prominent in evangelical engagement with the culture is because the wider culture is contesting Christian teaching on precisely this point. So while we don’t want to be shrill, pharisaical moralizers; neither should we shrink back from bringing the gospel to bear on contested ethical issues.


  • Ronnica

    Boyce Alum (#23): I don’t think the discussion of the numbers is an issue of missing the faces for the stats as much as it is a desire to seek what exactly Derek Webb is trying to say. It’s hard to critique a song if we don’t understand it.

    As for me, I will stand up for the truth and reach out in love to those in desperate need of the Gospel and other necessities.

  • Eric

    I am made at my self for spending time just listening to Mr. Webb’s drivel and reading by brother’s and sister’s reactions to it. Why do we create these websites? Why am I writing this comment? Let us, “God therefore and make disciples o all nations” and focus on attention on the greatness of God. I listen to jazz, so I guess I don’t have to worry about throwing away any CDs.

  • Rob Masters


    You said…I think we are misfocused both when we rail against the moral status of homosexuality and ignore the tragedy of world hunger.

    Can you name some names here? I have been involved in this “culture war” issue for a while and have never met a single person who “railed”, usually code for political activism, against the moral status of homosexuality and also ignored the the tragedy of world hunger.

    Rob from the Southern Baptist Geneva

  • Scott

    Frank (#17),

    Is there a particular aspect of confrontation that gets you and the “pyromaniac” crew so jazzed up? I can’t imagine any scenario where boasting, by implication, that he wouldn’t make it through 30 minutes of your interview can possibly serve any constructive purpose.

  • Richard

    Rob: My apologies if you took the word “rail” in any sense of offense for I meant the term in the sense of “complain loudly.”

    I was trying to call to our “focus” is this spiritual war, which is to proclaim Christ died for our sins. We are not in a war for our culture but a war for the hearts and minds of people who need to come to know and trust Christ. I just think the blaring issues in our country and the world sometimes cause to loose the focus of our mandate to proclaim the Gospel and make disciples. Homosexuality is sin and starvation is horrible; but, an eternity separated from the one living and true God is much worse.

  • Matt

    Blair #27 & John #26, I didn’t say I didn’t agree with Derek. He’s right if he’s criticizing Christians for bashing gays and not caring for the hungry. My point is that his audience already believes this. If they’re like me, they give money to World Vision and have gay friends. These are non-issues for us. This is not the Derek Webb I’ve grown to appreciate. As a fan, it feels to me like he’s just following the fashionable trend of criticizing Christians for not not being socially conscious, when it’s Christians that invented social consciousness.

  • blair Roberts

    robert hall,
    what good does a bible do a hungry person when what he needs to survive is food? the bible and the gospel are important, but if we someone is starving to death and we offer a bible when they need a drink of water, what good have we done?

  • blair Roberts

    i guess i just disagree. i don’t think it’s derek webb’s job to determine how to push us further. i think it’s his job to speak his heart and where God’s voice leads him. i just don’t think it’s fair to say he’s following a fashionable trend when he never has done that before. if anything, he started the fashionable trend of pushing Christians where they didn’t want to go, and so while it’s a different issue, it’s the same old derek webb that i love and appreciate, even though he’s not pushing me anywhere i don’t want to go.

  • blair Roberts

    and isn’t it good for him to keep speaking this way to gain a new audience that might need that push? just because we are his audience and have heard it before does not make what he is saying irrelevant. just a thought…

  • Jessica

    I agree with D.J. “She Must and Shall Go Free” is an incredible and thought provoking album. All of his music is, even the Caedmon’s Call songs that you have listened to a million times and then you hear something new. I did have some trouble with a few songs on “The Ringing Bell,” but that was because I supported the war in Iraq and I think Derek came at that from a different angle. It was still a great album. I haven’t decided on whether I will purchase “Stockholm Syndrome” or not, and if I do, I will probably buy the “clean” version, just because I don’t want my kids repeating what they hear. That’s just me being a mom. I will have to put my 2 cents in when I hear the song.

  • Will Wood

    I’m glad you called attention to this. It seems like the only people reviewing his albums are the ones who applaud everything he says (whether right or wrong or somewhere in a murky between).

  • AJ

    I find it rather ironic that Dr. Burk would bring this charge against Derek “(And used it all to promote the album.)” I wonder if such a charge could be made against Dr. Burk for using Derek to increase the traffic on his blog. I noticed that the # of comments picked up from 2 to 6 for the last three or four entries to 50+ on this one. Just saying . . .

  • Adam

    Matt says “I think he’s talking about people starving to death while Christians bash gays……”

    Matt Matt Matt, you are the exact problem that Derek Webb is addressing in all of these songs. The truth is Matt, that the christian church has made an absolute mess lately with its relationship and understanding of people of another orientation. I am beyond sickened by the fact that the church puts “homosexuality” above all other sins when the truth is the reason most people put it there is due to the “ickkk” factor. Where is the outrage for those who lie? Where is the outrage for those who cheat? Where are the camps for those who gossip so you can turn them into non-gossipers. Face it guys, the church currently has been lacking in outreach and has been focusing more on condemning. There was a church recently that went to a Gay Pride Festival and handed out water to those there. No bible verses, no tracks, they handed out water to those who needed it. This my friends is a true example of what God wanted the church to be like and I pray that we open our eyes to the growing need for outreach instead of focusing on bible beating and condemnation.

  • Derek Taylor

    Christians did not pick this fight on the issue of homosexuality. It’s not like Christians have imposed a perspective or definition of homosexuality that is unique among other faiths. Derek Webb and Tony Campolo and Rob Bell need to be reminded which side was the aggressor here. The only response they have to offer is capitulation.

  • John Pond

    I also find it troubling that in the promo video Josh moore is smoking. Not that I want to be a legalist, but I just finished telling my students from 1 Peter that they are to be different b/c they are not like the world. I am sick and tired of having students come up to me and tell me they went to a Christian concert and then saw the band smoking and drinking backstage! True story! When we try to be so relevant that we look exactly like the world something is wrong!

  • Danny

    Here’s what’s so pathetic about the song. Almost no one who listens to Derrick Webb has an anti-homosexual blog, so to speak. i.e. fundies ain’t listening. The song is about three years too late,it’s unorginal and preachy.
    It has taken me most of my adult life to learn to love “fundamentalists”. Although the cruchies like Derrick love to pick on them…he may be with them for a long time. Derrick has obviously been refined by fire. He’ll be able to lean up against the cross with a blade of grass in his mouth and tell them they “need some a this”.

  • Paul Butterworth

    To everyone who’s made it this far in the discussion, congratulations.

    To be honest Denny, I thought the most controversial thing with this album was that Derek’s experimenting with trip-hop. For many of you who’ve commented, please note that that is a musical genre. 🙂

    I have to disagree with you here Denny.

    I don’t think that Derek has so much set up a straw-man as you and other commentators have set him up as a strawman. All Derek has done is offer critique. In response to that, his motives have been attacked, and his fans insulted. (Guiness drinking hipsters? Come on.)

    Derek has written/sung many many songs about the Gospel, including with Indellible Grace. When he kicked off his last tour at the same venue he will launch this one, The 930 here in Louisville, KY (my church runs it, check out, he told the back story behind “I don’t want to fight” from this last album, “The Ringing Bell.” He wrote it after a bunch of hard-core reformed kids came up to him and insisted that he start writing what Dylan called “finger-point” songs about these other groups of Christians.

    Please note, then, what Derek has done. He started with an album entirely in protest against theological corruption in the church, a plea for the Gospel, called, “She Must & Shall Go Free.” As soon as his second album, “I See Things Upside Down,” he was proclaiming both the Gospel and Gospel implications. By “Mockingbird,” many of the Calvin Commandos who had once tried to impress girls with acoustic covers of “Wedding Dress” were now getting squeemish. Why? I’ll unpack that a bit on my blog soon.

    Suffice to say, Jesse’s comment (#6) I think sums up the issue well. All should read it. Coincidently, practically zero of you interacted with it.

  • Jesse Eubanks

    There is part of me that feels like the more I get involved in this conversation, the more I am missing Webb’s point. In part, his point is that we get caught up on lesser issues. Instead of all of us here discussing ways we can address the starving and dying, we’re discussing whether or not Webb sinned and whether or not we will listen to his music anymore.

    Though I do not think Webb sinned, I know some of you believe that he did. Fair enough. Even if he has sinned in the process of creating and releasing this song, are we seriously considering tossing the art of a brother in Christ to the side because of a sin he committed? Are we really ready to let something like this override the consistent pursuit and proclamation of Christ we’ve seen him display for the last 15 years? Shouldn’t we expect each other to do stupid things or say stupid things from time to time? Aren’t we all sinners?

    I wonder if in part, Webb put this song out here to see blogs like this explode with stone throwing. I’m not suggesting we should turn a blind eye to sin. But I am saying that we seem to be getting caught up in lesser issues and missing his bigger point. It’s a good opportunity for us to examine our own motives and to see what type of sin in our hearts rises to the surface when we encounter situations like this.

    What do you think?

  • phaedra

    Good thoughts, but I think you’re missing the point of the song. I don’t think Derek would ever say the Gospel is not of first importance. Specifically, what’s in view in this song is our responsibility as Christians to our fellow people. And sadly, many of us prioritize decrying homosexuality over, you know, actually doing something that helps someone.

    It’s easier to get on a soapbox and complain, or treat gays like they’re the enemy. Meanwhile, we have real work that we could be doing (including, yes, preaching the Gospel). I think that’s what he’s saying. And the Gospel should be at the heart of it all, fueling our service.

  • Darius T

    Rob, what exactly was wrong about what Francis Chan said? I don’t think he was saying that Prop 8 was wrong, just that some Christians’ priorities were askew.

  • Dwight Davis

    I love that a lot of these comments are really bashing Derek Webb in a way that is neither edifying nor loving. You are all judging a man based on his music when you probably have never even had a conversation with him.

  • Rob Masters

    Darius T:
    He is saying precisely the same thing
    that Derek Webb is arguing in his song.
    He made a stand that his church was not going to join the ranks of many other churches in CA and publicly oppose prop 8. Then he goes on to “rail” against Christians priorities..
    It was very condemning of those us who believe that God has called us to redeem the culture.
    I realize that he he is a graduate of Masters seminary and this is just an outworking of John MacArthurs view of God and government.
    What Bavinck calls Evasive Pietism.

    “your so socially awkward around homosexuals that you cant even carry on a conversation …much less love them”.
    Francis Chan

    I think Tim Keller is partially responsible for this new attitude among some younger christians due to his interpetation of the the Prodigal God.
    The new battle cry for them!
    Judge the judgementalist or stone the stoner’s. Problem with that is that it is not Biblical

    Rob from the Southern Baptist Geneva

  • Darius T

    He’s saying keep the Gospel center, not the Culture Mandate. Plenty of Christians confuse the two.

    At the same time, that doesn’t mean you can’t be a John the Baptist to our society’s Herods.

  • Ryan

    I believe Webb’s intent was this…

    Pharisaical Moralism in Evangelical Christianity is hyper-concerned with battling the homosexual agenda. This is wrong.

    A true Jesus-loving, gospel-centered person is MORE concerned about the MORE important issue of the impoverished and needy.

    That being said, that Jesus-loving,gospel-centered person can still be opposed to homosexuality (or maybe better put – ALL SIN). If their priorities are correct (i.e. Webb’s calling) our desire to see sinner’s (Homosexuals, adulterers, drug addicts, wife beaters, my grandma, etc) turn to Christ is cast in a framework of love and mercy and not judgment and hate.

    Le Internet Monk just posted his thoughts here as well…

  • RvL3

    (I’m guessing that content moderation is on, since my first post didn’t show up.)

    First off, I want to say that I own the Stockholm Syndrome album and that I have listened to the song in question a dozen or so times. That being said, is anyone sure that the 50,000 deaths is referring to hunger? Or, could these deaths be deaths of people who haven’t heard the gospel? I had not thought about hunger, in association with these deaths, until I read this article. The message that had come across to me was that we (Christian conservatives in America) are focused on speaking out against one particular sin, while ignoring that people all around us are dying–many (or most?) without Christ. Assuming, as the posters here have, that these deaths are from hunger, does change the fact that they are still dying without Christ? Maybe the “remedy” that the 50,000 are dying without is food, or maybe the remedy they are not being given is being told that salvation comes only through the death and resurrection of Christ.

    We as Christians need to let the things that were important to Christ be important to us. We need to love the sinners around us, as well as the hungry, lost and dying. We need to stop accepting, as some churches have, co-habitation, or unwed mothers’ actions and justify such actions because “at least she didn’t have an abortion.” We need to love the sinner, yet hate the sin. Far too often we either hate the sinner and hate the sin, or “love” the sinner and accept their sin as “not being so bad.”

    Another controversy is that Derek Webb used the words “d**n” and “sh-t.” The Apostle Paul use the Greek work equivalent to sh-t in his letter to the believers at Phillipi, although you wouldn’t know it by reading most modern translations. If you look at the Greek word that is translated “dung” (KJV) or “rubbish” (NIV, NASB) in Phil. 3:8 you’ll see the root word meant sh-t.

    And something I find ironic is that Derek Webb speaks out against people who “put words in your mouth” and taken “what you believe” and “make you sound like a freak.” Correct me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t this whole discussion gone about doing just that? We are making assumptions about what Derek believes, and passing judgment based on our limited understanding of his beliefs.

  • Darius T

    Ryan, Webb’s potential mistake here is that it isn’t a case (as you just rightly mentioned above) of an either/or. Either you “love people like Jesus and never mention their sin” or you rip into them like John the Baptist did to Herod. That’s a false dichotomy. And based on the lyrics, I’m not sure Webb gets that (just like many young Christians don’t, especially those of the Emerging Church persuasion). While we can always do better, it is the Church that is feeding the poor around the world, not the politicians or governments. Conversely, it is the Church that is responding with truth to the lie that homosexuality is a normal, God-ordained lifestyle.

    Are there plenty of backwoods, “fundamentalist” Christians in America who only care about judging the lost and hating them? Sure. But those aren’t the people who listen to Webb’s music, so he’s not trying to speak to them. He’s preaching to the choir, and in doing so, he’s doing the same thing that he is condemning in others: looking to another’s house instead of his own. “Those Christians over there rant and rave about homosexuality while real Christians like myself are concerned about the poor and those afflicted with AIDS.” Ironic that he seems to be guilty of the same pharisaical finger-pointing that he sees in others, isn’t it?

    I get really tired of the ankle-biting Christians rather than those who would build up the Church. Cynicism may have its place, but rarely is it helpful.

  • Rob Masters

    Do you believe it it is possible love someone to hell?
    Why is it acceptable for you to judge these Christians that supposedly do things out of judgement and hate.
    Secondly who are these hateful Christians….I have not met one yet.

    BTW….dont say Fred Phelps because he picketed my church at one time.

    BTW2—God is a God of judgement and wrath.

    Rob from the Southern Baptist Geneva

  • Darius T

    As for the Internet Monk… seriously?

    “No one else is saying this stuff and Webb doesn’t miss his punches.”

    I had to laugh, this is patently untrue. This is the vogue thing to say and has been for the last 4-5 years. Webb isn’t a prophet, he’s just your garden-variety cynic who can sing.

  • Darius T

    “God is a God of judgement and wrath.”

    Rob, you forgot the rest of that sentence. He is also a God of mercy and love. You’re dangerously close to sounding like you’re making the same mistake as Webb, only on the other end of the spectrum.

  • Matt Galyon


    I have my problems with Webb for sure, but pointing out a disconcern for the poor sounds like a prophet to me. 🙂

  • Darius T

    Not when the Church is already doing lots to take care of the poor. If it weren’t for the Church, many more would be poor or starving. It’s a straw man, and an especially weak one at that.

  • Rob Masters

    Darius T.
    I think the general attitude in evangelicalism is far, far to the love and mercy extreme then the sinners in the hands of an angry God extreme. God does hate evil!
    An example go read the ADVOCATE comments section when a religious topic comes up. Always self admitted homosexuals insist that God loves them just the way they are ….sans repentance.

    Righteousness exalts a nation.

    Lastly that comment was really directed to Ryan.

    Law to the proud(homosexualist are proud people…..heard of pride parades)Grace to the humble.

    Rob from the Southern Baptist Geneva

  • Darius T

    Rob, “self-admitted homosexuals” aren’t evangelicals (though I know some do pose as such). The general attitude in the WORLD does tend toward “God is love, love, love.” But I haven’t seen that in the evangelical Church.

    We’re all proud people. We could ALL use more humility, at least that is true for me.

    1 Corin. 5:12-13

  • Rob Masters

    Darius T:
    I guess your experience and mine are just different……thats all I hear.

    As far as the Law to the proud grace to the humble …was not directed to believers but to the lost.
    See Kirk Cameron and Ray Comforts “Way of the Master”.

    Jeesus Loves You and has a wonderful plan for your life!

    Rob from the Southern Baptist Geneva

  • JAdkins

    Dr. Burk,

    I’m a big DWebb fan, but I generally agree with you concerning “What Matters More.” I think Derek has posited a false disjunction. Christians can address the sin of homosexuality in the culture and address world needs (e.g., AIDS, hunger). We don’t have to abandon one pursuit for the other.

    However, I think DWebb has a few appropriate critiques about many Christians’ views toward homosexuality, or more accurately homosexuals. We (including me!) have far too often exhibited hatred toward homosexuals, rather than lovingly declaring the gospel to them.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

  • Wm Shaw

    I think Derek wrote the song around one core idea expressed in one of the lines:

    “If you really believe what you say you believe, you wouldn’t be so (darn) reckless with the words you speak.”

    I don’t see the song as being a question of the relative importance of preaching against (just one) sin verses social justice.

    I see the song as a call to Christians to be aware of the message they are sending (personally and collectively) to the culture at large.

    He says the loudest message is one of moralizing, nit-picking, and condemnation. And, the message is off-topic and irrelevant to the culture around us.

    And what’s worse, the WORK of the Lord is being put aside for in favor of the moralizing, nit-picking, and condemnation.

    He is talking perceptions here. He could, as could we all, find numerous examples where this message does not hold true but, the culture sees these examples as being the exception, whereas we must make them the rule.

    NB: Homosexuality plays a part in only 2 of the 7 illustrations of things that should matter less.

  • Ryan

    @Darius T. (#73) – I’m having a hard time understanding your point – but I think we could get on the same page on all of this. I’m not trying to defend Webb, I’m just trying to battle his cynicism with some level of grace and understanding. I’m open for calling him out on what he’s doing wrong, and I think that’s the piece you’re getting right.

    @Rob Masters – Dude, chill. I was merely trying to phrase what I believe Webb was trying to say. It’s just a guy and his song. And even if you think it’s a bigger deal than that, these comments and interchanges on this board – they DON’T MATTER TO THE REST OF THE WORLD. So stop fighting like they do. And please, think about the damage your attitude and interactions on these boards has on your soul and your non-internet life.

  • Ryan

    @Darius T – Cool, that’s what I thought. I can’t go through the whole thread to get your perspective. It didn’t sound like you were disagreeing. That’s why what you said resonated with me. Your comment was like the ‘ying’ to my comment’s ‘yang’, ya dig?

  • Darius T

    I dig ya, Ryan.

    I wonder what song Webb would have written for John the Baptist after he “moralized, nit-picked, and condemned” Herod.

    Rob, I think I misunderstood what you were saying about law and grace. I agree. I’m just saying that everyone involved needs to stop building their argument on anything outside of the Gospel. Keep the Cross at the center. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

  • Erik

    All right. I read the article a few times and would hardly describe it as fair or even rational.

    “Webb argues that “what matters most” is the “50,000 people who are dyin’ today” ”

    Actually Webb argues “what matters MORE” is the pressing social issues of our time rather than Pharisaical moralizing on issues such as homosexuality. Did Burk even listen to the song? Obiviously not….so he charges Derek with creating this false dichotomy of moral vs. social issues (and gives a really lame example about a youth leader and a homosexual student) I don’t think that is even close to what the song is trying to say. Therefore, Burk’s conclusion (and lame example) is totally irrelevant.

    “I would suggest, however, that the best remedy to Pharisaical moralizing is the gospel”
    And Burk’s conclusion is:
    “I wish that Webb had concluded that “What Matters More” is the gospel. I think he missed it on this one.”

    I would say that is precisely what Derek is saying is the remedy (belief in the gospel) for this type of behavior (see lyrics below)……
    “Cause if you really believe what you say you believe
    You wouldn’t be so damn reckless with the words you speak”
    “I can tell what’s in your heart by what comes out of your mouth”
    ……….guess he didn’t hear those lyrics?

    I believe Derek is saying that faith evidenced by works “matters more” than “Pharisaical moralizing” prevalent in our culture today. I tend to agree with him.

  • Jan D.

    Just a random thought…Is it possible this is simply a marketing technique designed to get both his listeners and critics to check out the Christian song with the cuss word in it?

    Just makes me wonder due to the fact there is a “clean” and “uncut” version of the album. I dont know of any other Christian artist who have required their music have an advisory label on it.

  • les

    The irony is that the majority of the commenters model the exact behavior that the artist is lamenting about in the music. Its sad, amusing, and thought provoking, much like the music.

  • Mark P.

    Just for some context, Derek also has a song about Fred Phelps on the same album called “Freddie Please” which talks about the group of people who picket soldiers’ funerals with signs saying “God Hates Fags.” I think the two songs go together. (Derek refers to “Freddie” as “brother” and says “Brother, what matters more…” in this song) Derek uses scriptures to show the hypocrisy of this type of action. In “Freddie” he says “How can you tell them you love me when you hate me.” and in “what matters” he says “You say you always treat people like you’d like to be.”
    Therefore, I think he is trying to say through these songs, “Jesus told us ‘Love your enemies, and do not hate them’ and ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ So, Fred Phelps (and whoever else), do you think you are demonstrating the love of the One you claim to represent? Do you love them though they may bring all kinds of distress to you? Do you return evil for good? You are not following the example of Jesus, who has loved his enemies.”
    His point seems to me be the same point that Mr Burk makes at the end of this post- “the gospel of Jesus Christ is for everyone—including his student who experiences same-sex attraction.” Therefore, Fred Phelps, quit telling these people God hates them. He doesn’t.

    A final thought. It could also be that Derek heard about the Fred Phelps stuff, got real pissed off, and wrote a couple of songs to vent. We probably shouldn’t try to extrapolate his view of God, the gospel, and the meaning of life from two songs about a very specific topic. I’m not a derek fanatic, just want to be fair.

  • volfan007


    In your answer to me above…way above…you called me a Pharisee for saying that I didnt like the 50,000 people dying of hunger, and I didnt like the fact that a supposed Christian singer used sh_t in his song, nor that another commenter used d_mn in his comment. What in the world is Pharisaical about that?

    We are commanded in the Scripture to not use vulgar, nasty language. Look it up in Colossians. You can find it in other places in the NT. So, how can you possibly try to justify a Christian using vulgar, nasty language?????

    It’s not Pharisaical…it’s called purity and holiness and obedience and just good ole common sense…which all seem to be lacking in our day with some Christians thinking that they can live hedonistically…almost be antinomians…and if anyone calls them on it….then they cry “Legalism!” or, “Pharisee!”


  • Scott


    I apologize for getting you so revved up!

    Your post implied that foul language was/is on the same playing field as world hunger. That’s absolutely ridiculous.

    I never justified the use of “vulgar” language – only attempted to put it in perspective.

  • Andrew J. Nicewander

    All, I went to the Blood Water Benefit Concert last night in Red Oak, Texas. Derek Webb performed (along with Joy Williams, Bethany Dillon, Christopher Willaims, and MC’d by Dan Haseltine). This is a video I took of Derek at the end of his set before singing “This Too Shall Be Made Right”. It might shed a bit of light as to where his mind and heart is with regards to “What Matters More”

  • Dan

    why the fascination with the exact figure DW refers to in the song? It’s like reading Matthew 19 and then trying to figure out what Jesus meant when he said “go sell your possessions and give to the poor”. Do you sell everything? To be fixed on that question (which by the way I had been for 10 years)is to miss the point of the text, which is that without God it is IMPOSSIBLE to be saved. I am a 5 point calvinist, evangelical, and reformed, and reading the responses on this blog make me want to cry. We have to be more wise than what these responses have reflected. Satan is the great eccentric, constantly taking us from the center of truth (lewis). All who have posted on this blog would do well to acquaint themselves with Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC. A quick read of Harry Blamires “the christian mind” and Basil Mitchell’s “Faith and Criticism” would also be beneficial.

  • volfan007


    I was not putting it on the same level as hungry people. I simply said that I dont like either one. And, really, to try to justify cussing by saying that hungry people is worse is silly.


  • Scott

    I wasn’t trying to justify cursing by saying world hunger is worse. I was, unapologetically, questioning your post which strongly implied the two were equivalent.

    And, if I may say so, given your reaction I’m still not entirely convinced to the contrary.

  • Adam Pedrone

    I think poverty is more important than legislation against homosexuality. You have to admit, Christianity and gay bashing go hand in hand. I witness this first hand. This message is important, Christians do need to be more careful with the words they use. Derek does not verbalize his stance on homosexuality on the album, just criticizes christians harsh treatment of them.

  • volfan007


    If you’re not convinced, then you are wrong. And, I really am not going to lose sleep if you dont believe me.


  • Danny

    The Devil hasn’t posted here yet. But, this commentary is keeping me from raising my kids. I think satan may work best in distracting us not tempting us.

  • Nate Collins

    Some different thoughts… different from my previous comment, which was not approved, probably because I did not read the lyrics closely enough, so Dr. Burk didn’t want me to embarrass myself… thanks Dr. Burk 🙂

    Great comments, Jesse E. and Paul B. My thoughts exactly.

    By the way, here are the actual lyrics:

    You say you always treat people like you like to be
    I guess you love being hated for your sexuality
    You love when people put words in your mouth
    ‘Bout what you believe, make you sound like a freak

    ‘Cause if you really believe what you say you believe
    You wouldn’t be so d**n reckless with the words you speak
    Wouldn’t silently conceal when the liars speak
    Denyin’ all the dyin’ of the remedy

    Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
    Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

    If I can tell what’s in your heart by what comes out of your mouth
    Then it sure looks to me like being straight is all it’s about
    It looks like being hated for all the wrong things
    Like chasin’ the wind while the pendulum swings

    ‘Cause we can talk and debate until we’re blue in the face
    About the language and tradition that he’s comin’ to save
    Meanwhile we sit just like we don’t give a s**t
    About 50,000 people who are dyin’ today

    Tell me, brother, what matters more to you?
    Tell me, sister, what matters more to you?

    A couple thoughts:

    1. Kudos to Webb for penning yet another edgy, yet thought-provoking song about an important topic that is not often discussed in an entirely helpful manner in Christian circles.

    2. While I appreciate Dr. Burk’s thoughts about Webb’s new song, I’m not sure Webb is making as clear a statement regarding the remedy to Pharisaical moralizing about homosexuality as Burk suggests he is. Certainly, the line that says, “Denyin’ all the dyin’ of the remedy,” is uncomfortably vague and leaves one to hazard a guess about what exactly Webb is referring to. In any event, I still think that the purpose of the song isn’t primarily to suggest a remedy to the problem of Pharisaical moralizing about homosexuality. If this were the primary purpose, the lyrics would have been clearer. Primarily, the song seems to serve the purpose of being an expression of anger and discontent with the manner in which Christians typically approach the issue of homosexuality. In other words, one could quibble with Webb on account of his vagueness, but this seems not only to be a waste of time, but also to miss the point.

    3. It seems neither fair nor adequate to fault Webb for not holding out the “gospel” as the remedy for Pharisaical moralizing about homosexuality. First of all, as others have pointed out, Webb would certainly agree with this, so the suggestion doesn’t really get us anywhere. Second, as others have again pointed out, we ought not to drive such a strong wedge between belief and action, between faith and obedience, between saying and doing, etc… Webb is no doubt frustrated, as am I, at Christians who are hailed as heroes for their “courage” in truth-telling regarding the evils of homosexuality, but who refrain from calling upon the Church to demonstrate a truly heroic compassion to homosexuals, let alone model it themselves. To hold out an abstract reference to “Jesus Christ, the One who was crucified and raised for sinners,” together with the behavioral implications of this statement as it relates to Christian obedience, as the most significant expression of the gospel as it relates to the plight of homosexuals seems, quite simply, inadequate. Yes, it is a necessary step, together with a firm commitment to scriptural teaching regarding the fallenness of homosexuality, but it is inadequate in itself. Webb seems to be saying that when our “courageous” truth-telling is not coupled with equally courageous demonstrations of compassion towards those who suffer from the effects of the Fall (whether it’s the homeless, the hungry, or the homosexual), we risk doing more harm than good. I’m not sure what is so hard to grasp about this point… it seems almost self-evident. Homosexuals don’t merely need to be told the gospel and urged to conform their lives to its external standards. They need to see the gospel lived out in Christians’ lives as Christians lovingly and compassionately accept homosexuals as they are, in all the desperation of their plight, and not merely as we wish they would be (because, quite frankly, they make us uncomfortable, maybe?). Loving acceptance does not entail condoning acceptance.

    4. Webb seems angry… maybe too angry to be very effective among Christian populations he desires to influence. This is unfortunate. At the same time, SOMEONE has to get angry. Webb, in typical fashion, calls the Church on the carpet for its historically imbalanced approach to homosexuality. That we may judge him to have failed in doing so in a perfectly balanced manner himself, however, in no way excuses us from hearing his warning.

    Just some thoughts…

  • Rob Masters

    I have been involved in political events for years……not one time have I witnessed any homosexual bashing by Christians. Never!

    On the other hand Christian bashing is pretty common.

    Especially by homosexuals.
    One example Carrie Prejean.
    an example of Christian loving toward Homosexuals…..Chris towards Adam on Idol.

    Rob from the Southern Baptist Geneva

  • Nate Collins

    I’m sure Adam (#102) can answer your question for himself, but here’s my two cents. While working on a group project with four other seminary students here in Louisville, I endured 15 minutes of what could only be described as “gay-bashing,” before the subject changed to something else. It was a crass discussion that betrayed a complete and thorough ignorance about the subject and, as I mentioned in #105, a complete insensitivity to and lack of awareness of the desperation of their plight. At the end of the day, however, it doesn’t surprise me. When the heroes we hold up as worthy of emulating are the truth-tellers who give little more than lip service to the essential role of compassion in actually living out the gospel, these types of seminary students (not to mention Christians in general) are the result. When we’re not challenged (whether by example or by heartfelt, desperate exhortation… either one will do, at this point) to leave our comfort zone, it is human nature to revert to that which causes us the least amount of discomfort. If all we do is exhort fellow believers to “faithfully uphold scriptural truth regarding the sinfulness of homosexuality” (in a substandard, speak-the-truth-in-love sort of fashion) or even to “hold out the gospel of Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for the sins of all people, including homosexuals,” as though either of these responses are adequate in themselves, without actually learning how to demonstrate to homosexuals in a genuinely compelling manner the love and compassion Christ really does have for them, we are being less than obedient and doing a disservice to the gospel. And yes, it is something that must be LEARNED. Otherwise, many of us might end up “gay-bashing” despite our best intentions.

    Much more could be said…

  • Rob Masters

    Not tracking with you either……

    I also believe that it is a Biblical principle that we should not celebrate or we should stigmatize behaviour that is not societally acceptable or should not be societally acceptable!

    Consider the fact that in George Washingtons army a homosexual was actually put to death for his be behaviour. Compare that to the situation with prop 8 today.

    Rob from the Southern Baptist Geneva

  • John Holmberg


    They are people like you and your colleagues. Come on man, just because you don’t say how much you hate gays and make blanket statement about homosexuals does not mean that it doesn’t come across as “gay bashing” to others. The very fact that you post so much about gay marriage (I mean, let me re-type that for you) “marriage” and could even question Derek Webb’s words in this song indicates this.

    I’d just like to ask you, Denny, do you have any homosexual friends? I mean, homosexuals that you interact with on a weekly basis. Our approach should be a little more complicated than telling them they’re huge sinners destined for hell if they don’t stop their horrific behavior and they need to believe Jesus bore the penalty for their sins on the cross (which is what you probably define as the “Gospel,” even though it’s astoundingly reductionistic).

    Is it surprising to you that a homosexual would read your blog and feel hated, judged, and marginalized? That a homosexual would read your blog and not give you any respect or the time of day in a relationship or conversation.

    It always astounds me when I read the Gospels and see how attracted the sinners are to Jesus, yet in conservative evangelicalism they want absolutely nothing to do with us. A lot of evil has been and can be done in the name of being “biblical” and trying to mold a secular society to your morals.

  • Jesica

    I confess, I haven’t read every comment here…so forgive me if this has already been asked and answered.

    But, here’s my question…

    Why doesn’t someone just go to the source? Send Derek an email and ask him what he means in this song.

    He was my friend when I lived in Houston. He used to play with Caedmon’s Call every Monday night for Metro Bible study. Wow, what a treat that was!

    He also frequented the cafe where I worked in my 20s, and one of the most interesting conversations we ever had was about why he wrote,
    “I Just Don’t Want Coffee Today”…

    I encourage you to write and ask him what he means in his song.

    Back then he was a pretty straight up guy, and my guess is that someone..either Derek or one of his reps., might just write you back with his explanation.

    In Christ Jesus,

  • volfan007

    Calling a sin a sin will seem hateful to the ones who are living in that sin. It makes them feel mad, guilty, and unwelcomed.

    Hey, I used to feel that way, too, whenever I was lost and living a hedonistic lifestyle. But, the fact of my sins, and the guilt of my sins drove me to my knees in repentance and faith.

    Homosexuality is a sin against God. So is lying and cheating. So is adultery and fornication. So is greed….

    To call a sin a sin is not hate. To cry out against the sins of our society is not hate. It’s being faithful to God, and it’s really caring enough about people to tell them the truth, and to share with them the remedy…the solution.


    PS. I thank God for faithful Christians, especially Pastors, who loved the Lord and truly cared about people enought to preach the truth about sin. I thank God that their “preaching” led me to saving faith in Jesus.

  • Nate Collins


    I don’t think I ever said that the “heroes of the faith” I have in mind actually engage in “gay-bashing” themselves, although I can understand how one might have assumed that’s what I meant. I do think perception is important, however, and while we can’t constantly be looking over our shoulder to see how our words and actions are being perceived (there is but one Judge), we shouldn’t regard other people’s perceptions as irrelevant, either, especially if their life-experience differs markedly from our own. In this sense, John (#112) seems to be right. We can truth-tell with the best of intentions to sound compassionate, but if, at the end of the day, people don’t actually perceive us as compassionate, then we have fallen short. I know it’s impossible to please everybody, but if we’re not even trying (or trying in seemingly ineffective ways), then perhaps something is wrong.

    Another related thought… “gay-bashing” is definitely an extreme term. Very loaded. I’m not saying that every person who approaches the topic of homosexuality in an unhelpful manner is guilty of engaging in “gay-bashing.” That would be a misguided (and foolish) accusation indeed.

  • Matthew Staton

    Recently, a respected Christian man (a friend, not someone famous) who devotes his life and resources to serving God and others made a comment about taking gays out back and shooting them.

    I suspect Webb is attempting to shout at those who are hard of hearing, like an OT prophet walking around naked or marrying an unfaithful woman. I don’t know that this justifies his method since we are not to use corrupt communication. Nevertheless, I think it is just as corrupt to joke about shooting gays as it is to use salty language. Which, I am guessing, is part of Webb’s point.

  • Ryan Phelps

    I think I have read all of the comments, but forgive me if I am repeating anything that has been said.

    It seems to me that the song is not about those who do sacrificial service but about exposing legalism. His point in bringing up those who do sacrificial service is not to say that legalists would be better off if they served sacrificially (though they might). Rather, he makes the comparison between the two types of people because it makes the legalist look so obviously immoral. No one would deny this. His song resonates with us because we are a relatively compassionate people. Of course it is much worse to say “Gay people are going to hell!” than to try and save those 50k people who die every day. The latter, in our culture, is morally superior to the other. So I would disagree with Denny insofar as he thinks that Webb is saying that the legalist’s legalism will be ameliorated by serving sacrificially. Webb would probably say a lot of things are morally superior to bashing gays. But, as least as this song is concerned, he thinks that what will make legalists stand out as morally inferior will be to pit them up against those who serve sacrificially.

    On the other hand, what he seems to have done, unwittingly, is made a comparison that proves, ultimately, to be untrue. Though he doesn’t realize it, he has contrasted being self-righteous in one way to being self-righteous in another way. Though on the surface it seems as though serving sacrificially is morally superior to bashing gays, outside of the gospel, serving sacrificially is itself based in self-righteousness. And self-righteousness is a heinous act in God’s eyes whether it is done through legalism or relativism because it is based not on the work of Christ, but on your own concerted effort. So Webb, I would argue, tries to make a contrast that is not actually there.

    The only true and helpful comparison could have been legalism as compared to the gospel. That is the only thing that exposes self-righteousness at its root and begins to change hearts. It changes hearts by showing legalists that we are ALL one in Christ Jesus. We are ALL sinners saved by grace, not by our works. And the same goes for those who serve the 50k. When their self-righteousness is confronted with the gospel, they serve not because it makes them right with God or makes them good people, but because serving is the outcropping of what Jesus did for them at the cross.

  • Durwood

    Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Eph. It’s still corrupt communication. Derek slipped on this album. He is focusing on his art and on making a point, and mabyee not so much on the ultimate. I am disappointed in this album, but not suprised. Bono said it, so I guess it’s cool.

  • Jeffery Hunt

    Well, first, hello to all you Louisville folks that I haven’t seen in ages: Nate, Paul, Charlie, and probably others.

    Let me say that around the time that the Episcopal church was ordaining that gay Bishop, I was having dinner with Derek and there was a television reporting on it in the background. Derek immediately went “What?!” with disgust. I asked him what he was talking about and he said “that is wrong and its a sign that the episcopal church has almost completely forsaken the scriptures” or something along those lines. He said quite prophetically that that issue would split their church and weeks ago it did. He made it clear that homosexuality is wrong. So I know that Derek isn’t saying that homosexuality is ok. On the other hand, one of his good friends is famous and openly gay and the album is dedicated to him. Its not really my favorite song on the album (which I think its his best album musically). I agree with Paul Butterworth but I also agree with the people who feel as though Derek is pandering to his hipster crowd and not really speaking effectively to the whole church. So while I don’t think there is anything particularly wrong with the song, its also not that good of a song wither, and as Denny said, “about three years too late”.

  • Jon K

    I haven’t read all the comments, but wanted to add a quote from Abraham Heschel’s classic work, “The Prophets”:
    He says the Hebrew prophets’ message was characterized by “Sweeping Allegations…The prophets were unfair to the people of Israel. Their sweeping allegations, overstatements, and generalizations defied standards of accuracy.”
    Derek Webb is worth listening to, and accusations about his ignoring the Gospel as a solution are unfounded (listen to his song, “Wedding Dress,” and read more about it). Just because some Christians give money to the cause of relieving poverty, more than the rest of society, we are not off the hook. The reality is, many churches couldn’t care less if their members were fighting poverty in word and deed but would care deeply and consider church discipline if they were acting on same-sex attraction. Webb’s lyrics don’t say sexual sin isn’t important. Rather, they ask us to look at the Word of God and see where His emphasis lies.

  • Ashley

    While it’s true that you can never tell a young student struggling with homosexual issues that you did so much to solve world hunger, you need to understand the context of Derek’s song. He is writing about the social issue of homosexuality, not the personal issues that you mentioned. And he is also not writing music to give you answers for your congregation. He writes music because he wants to tell the truth, because he likes to and (yes, it’s true) to make money. So it’s reasonable that he may have pulled a publicity stunt to get attention for the record. As for the societal aspect of this issue, his answer is legitemit.. that there are bigger problems to face than publically morally stoning christians (and even more problematic) non-christians with homosexual longing- because honestly the fact that is a widespread debate among christians is because its a widespread debate among non-christians over an issue the government truely should have no say in anyway. So I think Derek’s response is correct. Obviously the bible says homosexuality is wrong, but we live with every other sin mentioned, such as lust, or divorce, or gossiping, and nevermind the issues Christ brought up, going well beyond the typical list and into much deeper issues, such as our fallen nature. I mean, most christians who speak socially and publically (such as on the news)on this issue are unbelievably abusive and opinionated over this sin, when every other is virtually ignored. And that is so much of what Derek mentions on this cd- the interplay of the church’s union with the cultural “state” as well as the literal state/gov. (which is a mess!) and how anti-christian that actually makes us, as well as dealing with this social/ “hot-button” issue of homosexuality- negating the problem by indicting all of us. Derek is an artist, and he is creativly, and in my opinion authoritativly, taking hold of this issue. I also think that there are some sins that are entwined with the fact that we are utterly fallen so deeply that eradication will not fully occur until the kingdom has been fully realized, and for now all we can do is ignore them, or start cutting off body parts (and I’m not just referring to homosexuality here, but to the entire realm of sex and lust). Obviously you don’t want to foster a behaviour your convicted about; obviously if someone is not convicted about sin, shoving it down their throat and then humiliating them accomplishes nothing any christian would want to accomplish. I don’t really want to offend anyone, and I get that sometimes a midle road is as bad as a wrong road, but I feel this way about what I think. I believe that as far as governmental law goes, gay marriage should be legal, because it’s mostly about the benefits of marraige not destroying the traditional institution, though that may follow. As far as me personally, as long as someone is honest I will be there to listen if they start talking. I think as christians we have to get over this; their are gay people and sometimes their christians and Christ actually had more friends that were prostitutes and drunkards then perfect people who smelled nice. We are not called out of the old to a life where we don’t live and don’t have to think, and just get a formula to punch in for every situation; we’re called out into new, abundant, difficult lives where we live as “moving targets”.

  • Michelle

    He never spoke of a solution for pharisee-like behavior towards gays. Never once did he say that if you take care of those who are dying, it solves the issue. Never once.

    It almost seems like you can’t find anything good in the song simply because you don’t want to. To be trite, I don’t know the intentions of your heart, but I would have to question how you would pull something like that from the song when it doesn’t ever mention such a thing.

    What it is blatantly asking, however, is what matters more? Spending all of your energy on reminding sinners that they are sinning, or actually going to those who are without the Gospel.

    You see, American Christians do a bang-up job of reaching their own people. We spend more time judging others than actually loving them. I understand that maybe you, specifically, tell homosexuals they are wrong, while hating the sin and not the sinner. However, many American Christians are guilty of hating homosexual for less-than Biblical reasons but justifying their hate with Christ.

    I’ll give you an example. Growing up, I didn’t care if homosexuality was wrong or right by God’s standards; I thought it was gross. Why? Because that’s all I heard at church. I hated them and bought into this idea that they are just evil. My justification for such actions? Oh, well, the Bible says I’m right. But the Bible wasn’t my initial reason for feeling it was wrong.

    Thankfully, by breaking away at the age of 14, I learned that we are all, as it turns out, evil and in need of salvation. If Jesus can save the life of and adulterer and allow a prostitute to wash His feet with perfume, I can certainly learn to love and share with Homosexuals.

    Simply telling them they are wrong fixes and changes nothing. Let’s say they did, though. Let’s say they changed simply because you said it was wrong. What would they be left with? Nothing, ma’dear. Absolutely nothing. If you don’t love them and share what has been UNDESERVINGLY given to you, they will only have anger.

    And so, this is what Derek speaks of. We spend more time justifying our hate with Scripture than actually sharing the Gospel. And not only with American homosexuals who have a church at every street corner. We’re talking the 10/40 window, where people are dying without the Gospel because we’re too busy being blue in the face.

    I don’t know if you knew this, but, we can’t change people. Only God can. It’s obvious that a lot of homosexuals are not going to change? Doesn’t Paul say to shake from your feet and move on? Why do we continue to berate this topic when it’s obvious they already know how we feel? Why can’t we move on to someone who has never heard it before?

    Also, by the way, Scripture says that we shouldn’t judge as we are all sinners. Romans 2:1-5.

    So maybe, yeah, there is a solution in that song. The solution being that if we actually started to care about people and love them, these problems would find the solution – Jesus Christ.

    Shoving the answer down someone’s throat doesn’t change the situation. But loving someone makes all the difference.

  • ian

    dear all, rather than speculating on something like this and wasting time complaining of possibilities: why don’t you just ask him what he meant, or was trying to say? i read a few of the early posts and no body seemed to be interested in what he said, only interested in what they thought he was trying to say. i would suggest you ask him, as i have and get the answer straight from him. reading the above makes me think that we all better get the logs out of our eyes.

  • Joel

    Sheesh dude, you’ve got this one wrong.

    I feel like this post is the epitome of what he describes in these lyrics, ‘you love when people put words in your mouth, for what you believe and make you sound like a freak.’

    He isn’t pitting homosexuality and world hunger against one another (i.e. he ISN’T saying that the answer to homosexuality is to focus on world hunger- a more charitable hermaneutic would be nice). Christians, by in large, act one way (hatefully) towards homosexuals and, by in large, passive or uncaring about other important issues, whether it be world hungers, AIDS, etc.

  • Nate


    You really need to get better informed. Christians and christian organizations send more relief money to issues of disasters, world hunger, care for the sick (AIDS) than any other group. In fact, American Christians, and christian organizations send more money worldwide than ever other country other than the USA. Christian missionaries are teaching children all over the world, assisting with clean-water supplies, etc.

  • Joel

    Nate, I’m not saying christians don’t do a lot of great things for world hunger and the like. It’s about the attitude and emphasis of certain issues. Take Denny’s blog as an example. How many posts have been written on world hunger or AIDS and the like? Probably a few. How many do you think have been written on homosexuality? I searched the word ‘gay’ and it brought up 106 POSTS!

    I’ll restate the point I made earlier as well- Webb is not saying that the answer to homosexuality is feeding the hungry.

  • Daniel

    something to ponder:

    From Derek Webb’s Twitter page he says this:

    “i’m not a vocational minister. i’m a musician. and passing such judgement about someone you don’t know isn’t ‘gospel-guidance'”

    I responded with the following:

    “You are a musician, and feel that the Gospel, is best in the hands of a minister. The Gospel is part of your life or it is not!”

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